Lift kit, bigger tires, winch, arm rest, lights, a new shiny thing that hangs off the back, recovery bag, this guard, that guard - welcome to the Jeep Wrangler JK world. It can be overwhelming about which modifications to make. And, oh, you have a budget!??
Before you add something new, fancy and shiny to your order cart, consider upgrades that are really going to protect your vehicle; aka daily driver.
One component that always seems to get overlooked by JK owners is the need to upgrade differential covers if your plans include off-roading.
When the new Wrangler entered the 4x4 world, it was designed with many great features to make the vehicle perform better, while having different elements that we had not seen before. Things like traction control and hill decent. All things that made the JK a whole new Jeep animal.
One of the elements that separates the JK from, say a TJ or XJ, involves the rear axle design and the differential cover peeling off the housing and causing a leak....yikes!
How does this happen?
The JK factory differential covers have a small lip on the bottom that can catch rocks just right - causing the cover to peel. It seems to happen often and can cause major damage.
But, you say you only go out on easy green trails?
You are still at risk. All it takes is one rock or incorrectly tackled obstacle to come in contact with that lip and then it creates a domino effect. A really bad domino effect.
Once the lip is peeled back the slow leak begins. You may not even notice it, so you drive longer and faster. Meanwhile, the fluid inside the axle is becoming hotter and when it heats up it drips out faster.
All of this can cause "Bearing Wear" and worst case scenario the axle will lock up which means a $1000-2000 repair bill. Plus, there is always the extra inconvenience/cost of arranging to have to have the vehicle towed, repaired, etc. That money can add up fast, and it is money which could be better spent adding things you actually want on your rig.
This issue is more common in the JK because of the lip, but it can happen in older model Wranglers as well.
All of this can be avoided with a simple, and cost effective, differential cover upgrade. It is smart prevention, and if you plan on going off road on a regular basis it is a must! Way before you add that new arm rest or those angry eyes.